VICTORIA — Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement regarding the prime minister’s announcement of support to the oil and gas sector as part of the federal government’s economic relief plans:
“Overall, we think it’s the right approach. It sends an important signal that the federal government doesn’t intend to back away from its climate plan, but rather is inclined to orient relief, and we hope, subsequent stimulus efforts, towards activities that are aligned with their climate commitments and will reduce pollution.
“The first priority is helping and protecting workers who have lost their jobs. So it is good to see $1.7 billion earmarked for cleaning up oil and gas sites—a win-win for employment and the environment. We understand that the Alberta government has committed to policy changes that will prevent these liabilities being shifted from oil and gas companies to landowners and the public.
“We are also pleased to see $750 million dedicated to methane-reducing initiatives, which are key to reducing carbon pollution from the oil and gas sector.
“The stark reality is the Canadian oil and gas sector is confronted with cyclical and structural change, so we need to reorient and rebuild the energy sector with a focus on clean energy, and rebuild jobs that are stable, resilient and sustainable.
“There is innovation happening within the sector, in terms of trying to evolve beyond just pumping oil and gas for the purpose of burning it. Diversification in the oil patch can be done in ways that leverage its core competencies—like drilling for geothermal—toward new products, from carbon fibre to lithium to hydrogen. We hope that when the time comes to deliver stimulus, it is oriented towards these types of opportunities rather than business as usual.”